Man or Mouth?: The Rolling Stone Interview With Howard Stern

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Would you give up the radio show?
I can't. I'm under contract for two years. I would have to do both. I would have no personal life. If you're getting up at 4 o'clock in the morning, and you're doing a show from 6 to 11, how much more free time do you have? If you've got a wife and kids? I hardly see them as it is. So I suppose money will be persuasive in terms of doing late-night television.

What if you did the TV show as a taped version of the radio show?
I don't think that would be the answer. There's a certain intimacy with radio that people like. They like that there's not a camera on them. They tend to admit more and be more open. It would kill me if women came in and couldn't be naked in the studio anymore. It just wouldn't be right. I couldn't get up in the morning.

What is there about you that we don't know?
Well, first of all, I don't think that I leave a lot to the imagination. The whole point of the radio show is complete honesty. Every time I hold back, every time I'm sitting there going, "OK, I'd better not say that 'cause my wife will get pissed off," "my mother will get pissed off," or "it's really embarrassing to me, my image," I go, "Well, fuck that. I shouldn't have an image." Anything you find yourself holding back, it's probably what the audience most wants to hear. And it causes problems with your family. I'd say within the last year, it's started getting to my wife. It never used to get to her, but she's like "Is there anything between us that we don't share with your audience?"

She got furious at you for joking about her miscarriage on the air a few years ago. Is there something she has really objected to recently?
There's been a lot of things. She's – I don't know, she doesn't like the bullshit with the women. When women come in and want to give us massages, she really gives me shit.

She listens every day?
Yeah, and I've begged her not to listen. I say, "The best thing for our marriage is if you wouldn't listen." But that doesn't stop her. She has a mind of her own.

What was it like to get a favorable review in the New York Times?
Uh, I have mixed emotions about it. I don't think I'll ever be accepted by legitimate media, and I kind of like that. I'm way too honest. I'll meet someone, and three weeks later, I'll be talking badly about them if I see them doing something wrong. That's why I stay home all the time. I wouldn't go to a Hollywood party, because I'm sure half the people there want to choke me and kill me. I think it's neat, though, to get a positive review. I felt like I had really written something good. I'm not saying it was Hemingway, but it was something that conveyed a story. It was funny. There was a laugh a page. The fans really liked it. I also got a lot of reaction from people who didn't like the radio show and enjoyed the book.

Let's talk about the FCC. The radio company you work for, Infinity Broadcasting, has been fined more than a million dollars for a variety of things you've said on the air that fall under the FCC's definition of indecency. And now the FCC is delaying Infinity's purchase of three more stations because of you. Do you see yourself as a crusader for free speech in the tradition of comedians such as Lenny Bruce and George Carlin?
No. I am not a crusader for free speech. I see myself as someone who basically got into this to entertain. I never said, "Hey, I'm going to go out and break every boundary out there." And I never envisioned all this First Amendment hoopla. I'll tell you what's frightening about it: I can't win this fight against the FCC, because they're bureaucrats, and they've got all the time in the world, and they're going to sit there and just wear me down. And the way they do it is they hit the company I work for. They're doing it in a bald, underhanded way that's completely unconstitutional. The whole message has been for the company I work for: Fire Howard Stern.

What are you talking about?
I had a deal to go on in the morning in Atlanta. They were buying a station in Atlanta, and Jesse Helms said point-blank, "You'll never buy that station in Atlanta unless you agree not to put on Howard Stern." I can't go on in Atlanta.

Jesse Helms did that?
Oh, yeah. But I can't prove it to you. I know it went down. But I don't have any proof. And I'm the only one being attacked. Not Donahue and Oprah and Geraldo. Donahue did a show about penile implants at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. That's when children are watching television. They're not listening to the radio from 6 to 10 in the morning. They're in school or getting ready for school. They're being supervised by their parents. If you're going to tell me that you can't discuss penis, it's got to be the same law for everybody. It can't be just for me.

So the FCC is holding back your career?
Oh, without a doubt. I would have been on in about 300 markets already if it wasn't for the FCC.

What won't you say on the air besides the seven dirty words?
I'll say anything that I think is funny. And you know people have said to me, "Well, I never heard you talk about child rape, so you must have boundaries." Well, I don't think child rape is funny. I criticized Saturday Night Live when they made fun of Chelsea Clinton.

You hate being likened to Rush Limbaugh, and yet there are similarities. Your politics are pretty much the same. You're both hard-core anti-crime, anti-welfare . . .
Well, you're going to find a lot of similarity between me and Rush Limbaugh, because he got his entire fucking show from me. Rush Limbaugh was a failed disc jockey until he heard my radio show and said, "Oh, that's what you do." And what I resent about that fat cock is that he – just like so many other pricks in our industry – rather than saying, "Hey, I give Howard some credit for opening things up for me," every chance he gets, he says, "I don't want to be pumped in with Howard Stern."

Can we talk about your philosophy of life? I quote: "Lesbians. Lesbians. Lesbians."
You cannot go wrong with lesbians. You know I'm not the only one who knows this. I'm just blunt about it. Donahue knows it. Geraldo knows it. Oprah knows it. November ratings sweeps come up, and it's lesbians, lesbians, lesbians.

You've said that the greatest regret in your life is that you never had two women in bed– It's true.

–at once. And that now you turn down offers like that all the time.
Yeah, I do.

But knowing the kind of guy you are – very traditional and straight when you're off the air – do you really think that if you weren't married you would be fucking every woman who came on your show?
Yes. I know I would. And I can't believe now that I'll be turning 40, and I've been fucking the same woman for 21 years. There's a joy to that, I guess. But who ever would have predicted that I would have gotten this famous? The opportunities to have sex with women are unbelievable. I mean, I think I could have gotten the Barbi twins. They seemed to really like me. Well, not me, but the guy on the radio. I thought I could have had Dian Parkinson, the woman from The Price Is Right. Tawny Kitaen – I think she was interested. I got to admit that I would really love to fuck everybody. I can't believe how strong an individual I am. 'Cause I'd have a tremendous sense of guilt doing that to my wife.

Do you respect women?
I think I do. Yes, I see them as sexual objects. So women somehow think that that's being a misogynist or being a pig. I don't see it that way. I think I like women a lot. But I also see them as tits and ass, too. I'm just honest about it.

So when a woman comes in and shaves her pubic region or bends over your knee and lets you spank her . . .
It's exciting.

But doesn't that alter the way you think about them just a little bit?
No, not at all. A guy who fucks a woman and then leaves the room, I say that's a guy who hates women. All the foreplay, when you're spanking, you're shaving, you're doing ridiculous things – it's a real turn-on. I don't understand why a guy expressing his sexuality in the open is a bad guy or a guy who hates women.

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